Posted on: June 7, 2010 8:19 pm
What's up folks? I've actually never done a mock draft before, but I did a lot of reading up on prospects for the Hornets appearance in the lottery and I'm goign to give it a shot now. Forgive me if you think this totally sucks. Don't be afraid to criticize, definitely don't be afraid to praise and I hope this generates some conversation heading forward on this dead day in between NBA Finals games. So here goes out.
By the way, I'm only going to mock draft the first round.
1) Washington Wizards - John Wall, PG, Kentucky - Seems to be the no brainer pick here. I'm not really excited about Wall's prospects going forward, but I've been wrong on his type before (Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade) and he could continue to prove me wrong. Overall, though, front offices are in love with him and he becomes the new face of a team that really needs a new start.
2) Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State - I'm aware of the comparisons to Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, but with the consensus being that Wall and Turner are the two can't miss prospects from this draft, I think Philadelphia has to stay at this place and take their chances with him. Also, if they have to move Young or Iguodala then I don't think they'll hesitate. It's not as if those guys did anything for team success this season.
3) New Jersey Nets - Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech - The Nets rebuilding process may be slow and tedious, but he fits in nicely with Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Courtney Lee. It continues to give New Jersey a nice little core with a lot of promise going forward, which may make them a more appealing destination next offseason.
4) Minnesota Timberwolves - Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse - Sorry, BNW, but this looks like the pick here. Unless the team parts ways with Al Jefferson or Kevin Love going into the draft, the necessity of taking DeMarcus Cousins here just isn't necessary. Even though he's the better prospect, Minnesota would have a complete logjam without any fluidity in their frontcourt. Johnson also allows for Corey Brewer to go to the bench for Minnesota where he can be more of an impact player.
5) Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins, PF, Kentucky - The Kings wind up with the most promising player in the draft at the 5th spot. Cousins has a lot of upside but there seems to be questions regarding his attitude. Some think those red flags are unfair, but they do exist. Cousins will have to work on staying out of foul trouble and on his conditioning (he didn't play a lot of minutes his one year in college) but he should be great if he doesn't become a problematic player.
Now we have a general idea of how the top 5 is going to play out. The rest of it is all subjective.
6) Golden State Warriors - Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown - I see the Warriors taking Monroe here to fit in nicely with their frontcourt. They already have the athletic big men in Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph, they have their explosive frontcourt with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis and Monroe can fill in at either PF or C (in a pinch) for the Warriors.
7) Detroit Pistons - Al Farouq-Aminu, SF, Wake Forest - Probably the best player available at this point, Aminu will be able to step into Detroit (a team largely in need of talent) and contribute immediately. He could be the eventual replacement for Tayshaun Prince (who may not even be with the team by the start of the season) and could turn into a nice player at a big position of need.
8) Los Angeles Clippers - Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas - I don't think Henry deserves to go this guy, but the Clippers could use a conventional shooting guard that allows for Eric Gordon to come off of the bench. With Blake Griffin debuting next season and with Chris Kaman under contract, the need for a big guy isn't huge but they could take one here. However, I see them taking Henry at this spot.
9) Utah Jazz - Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas - The Greg Osterag comparisons are entirely unfair (and, I would claim, racially motivated). Aldrich is a great shot blocker and tough defensive presence that the Jazz sorely need at their center position. He's a legit center who may never star in this league, but he can make a big difference right away for the Jazz.
10) Indiana Pacers - Epke Udoh, PF, Baylor - While picks like Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough haven't payed immediate dividends, a pure shooting guard or point guard would be a better fit for the Pacers at this point. However, there really isn't one available. For this reason, I could see the Pacers trading down (I know a lot of mocks have Heyward going here, but Indiana won't reach that high) but if they stay here, they'll Udoh and he can be a big upgrade over Hibbert right away.
11) New Orleans Hornets - Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky - The idea of taking a small forward here is really intriguing, but the Hornets probably draft for need and take a big man here. Since I don't want the team to end up with Ed Davis or Larry Sanders, I'm going to pencil in Patterson here. Patterson has drawn a lot of comparisons to David West in that he wants to be a conventional PF but lacks the size to do it. However, being similar to David West is alright in this poster's eyes and, with West likely to opt out next summer, Patterson could wind up starting by next year for New Orleans.
12) Memphis Grizzlies - Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania - The Grizzlies probably don't need to add another big man, but I think the recent investigations with Zach Randolph are going to scare the team off of giving him the reported contract extension. For that reason, they may want to start looking for a replacement. Motiejunas is a complete opposite of Zach Randolph, but with Marc Gasol around the basket, the team can afford to take a chance on the sharp shooting, smooth 7 footer Motiejunas.
13) Toronto Raptors - Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall - With Chris Bosh likely leaving, Toronto may start to look forward for its frontcourt. Who knows where they'll be selecting depending on what trades they do or don't make involving Hedo Turkoglu, but there's no doubt the team needs a big man. For that reason, the Raptors take Hassan Whiteside here, who's a big project but worthy of the risk at this selection. Also, he's a legit center which would allow for Andrea Bargnani to play at his more natural power forward position.
14) Houston Rockets - Paul George, SF, Fresno State - I don't think that Yao Ming is healthy and nobody can say certainly that he is. However, the Rockets will go into next season with the idea that he'll be the team's starting center. As a result, the team isn't in need of drafting another power forward. Therefore, I see the team taking one of the fastest rising stars in the draft in George and plugging him in alongside Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin to form an explosive offensive trio.
15) Milwaukee Bucks - Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina - Although the Bucks aren't in desperate need of a big man, Davis can be plugged in to the rebuilding Bucks right away and immediately contribute for the team. Whether as a starter or backing up Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Davis would a nice compliment to Andrew Bogut in the frontcourt and would join an already young and impressive Bucks squad.
16) Minnesota Timberwolves - James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State - Ideally, the Timberwolves would love George to be here at 16th. Because he's not, the team goes for another wing man here with the 16th pick. Anderson has a nice offensive touch and can immediately step in as the team's starting shooting guard next season. He'd bring a long range shot that was missing in Minnesota last season and can even become an eventual solid man defender at the NBA level.
17) Chicago Bulls - Avery Bradley, SG, Texas - Regardless of which route Chicago goes in free agency, Bradley could step in and play the Ben Gordon role in Chicago. Kirk Hinrich may be better coming off the bench and, although similarly undersized, Bradley would be a better compliment in the backcourt with Derrick Rose than Hinrich is. Anderson would be a great fit here as well if I didn't have him going to Minnesota.
18) Miami Heat - Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky - Rumored to be a potential lottery pick, the size starved Heat will take a chance on the promising but largely unproven Orton. Although he only produced in spots last season for Kentucky, there seems to be a lot of potential for Orton. His lack of colleigate production will cause him to drop out of the lottery, but Miami will quickly take him here.
19) Boston Celtics - Gordon Heyward, SF, Butler - Although not your prototypical shooting guard, Heyward would be able to contribute in Boston right away. Really promising and possesing a really good fell for the game, Heyward would fit in with Boston and could eventually be groomed to supplant Ray Allen's shooting guard position, or be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce. Either way, the Celtics could use a young, talented wing player and Heyward fits the bill.
20) San Antonio Spurs - Damion James, SF, Texas - The Spurs will get a smart, four year senior who can contribute right away in Damion James. Needing an eventual replacement for Richard Jefferson (either this season or next season), James can play the small forward position and, while lacking the ball skills for the two guard spot, could play in that position in a pinch.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder - Larry Sanders, PF, VCU - Joining former VCU teammate Eric Maynor, Sanders could step in right away and contribute for Oklahoma City. Needing a legit PF, Sanders could join Serge Ibaka as a very promising front court going forward for Oklahoma City, which may be forced to let Jeff Green go due to financial limitations after they give the money to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
22) Portland Trail Blazers - Kevin Seraphin, PF, France - Without the necessary roster spots, Portland may seem content with drafting a foreign prospect and stashing him overseas for a couple of years. A talented big man, Seraphin won't take LaMarcus Aldridge's spot anytime soon but he could be a contributing piece for a thin Portland frontcourt.
23) Minnesota Timberwolves - Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada - Seen as a possible lottery talent, Minnesota will be extremely happy that Babbitt fell to them at 23. Babbitt is different from the earlier picks in that he can play a front court position if necessary (although his skill set is more natural for a SF).
24) Atlanta Hawks - Eric Bledsoe, SG, Kentucky - With Joe Johnson probably leaving and with Mike Bibby no longer blowing anybody away, Atlanta needs to turn its attention to the backcourt with the 24th pick. Bledsoe may be very similar to Jamaal Crawford in that he's an undersized two guard who likes to score a lot, but the team may not have a long term need for Crawford either after this season.
25) Memphis Grizzlies - Willie Warren, SG, Oklahoma - Seen as a possible lottery pick last season before deciding to stay at Oklahoma, Warren will be able to step in and be a nice combo guard off the bench for Memphis. Jamaal Tinsley isn't going to lock down any spots on the bench, so the guard spots should be wide open and Warren's scoring would fit rigiht in with what the rest of the Grizzlies are doing.
26) Oklahoma City Thunder - Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia - Joining Sanders, Ebanks looks like a solid second first round pick for Oklahoma City. He may be too similar to Kevin Durant, but he can be a nice back up for Oklahoma City at both the SG and the SF positions. He's a really smart player that's a fine rebounder for his position and also shoots a high percentage from the field. That'd fit right in with what Oklahoma City's doing.
27) New Jersey Nets - Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati - There have long been attitude issues with Stephenson and questions about his character, but Stephenson is an extremely talented player who can shoot from NBA range and has great size for a shooting guard or small forward. It's a risky pick for New Jersey, but his upside has impressed scouts thus far and he may be worth the risk at 27.
28) Memphis Grizzlies - Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State - Another player whose stock dropped after he decided to stay in college instead of entering last year's draft, Brackins is a hard workign big man who could provide some grit and toughness for the Grizzlies. After having taken two prolific scorers with their other first round picks, Brackins is the kind of low post, hard working presence the team could use.
29) Orlando Magic - Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis - Although Orlando would like to take a big man here to move Rashard Lewis to his natural SF position, they take Williams with hopes that he can become the eventual replacement for Vince Carter. Although lacking a great midrange game, Williams is a fantastic open court player and has no problem finishing around the basket. He's also a great on ball defender and can learn even more in the Magic's system.
30) New Jersey Nets - Armon Johnson, PG, Nevada - A tough point guard who could give the Nets another young, promising player, Johnson can step in and give New Jersey depth at the point guard position right away. He's a solid, solid pick this late in the first round as well.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Anthony Randolph, Ben Gordon, Blake Griffin, Brandan Wright, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Clippers, Corey Brewer, Courtney Lee, David West, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwyane Wade, Eric Gordon, Eric Maynor, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jamaal Tinsley, Jazz, Jeff Green, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, LaMarcus Aldridge, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Magic, Marc Gasol, Mike Bibby, Monta Ellis, Nets, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roy Hibbert, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Spurs, Stephen Curry, Tayshaun Prince, Thaddeus Young, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Tyler Hansbrough, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: May 18, 2010 1:10 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2010 1:17 pm
I figured since I didn't do a playoff preview this season for each team as I did last year, I'll do a fun little countdown to this year's draft, since that's where my team is going to be instead of the postseason. The draft lottery is tonight, so with the lukewarm reception I received with yesterday's submission (and yes I am using the term lukewarm very loosely), I wanted to get out # 9 before tonight's game. Just to let you know, we can all agree that 2000 is the worst draft of the bunch, so everything after this is entirely subjective and, honestly, I can switch from 9 to 5 as often as I want and I won't feel comfortable with my list. But comment, agree or disagree, whatever. Here's number 9 on my top ten draft lists: the 2007 NBA Draft which features some good names but, overall, a lot of dissapointing performances from a lot of the top picks.
2007-2008 NBA Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Aaron Gray, Acie Law, Al Horford, Al Thornton, Bobcats, Brandan Wright, Bucks, Bulls, Carl Landry, Celtics, Clippers, Corey Brewer, Daequan Cook, Gilbert Arenas, Glen Davis, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jamario Moon, Jared Dudley, Jason Smith, Javaris Crittenton, Jazz, Jeff Green, Joakim Noah, Julian Wright, Kevin Durant, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Luis Scola, Marc Gasol, Marco Belinelli, Mike Conley, Nets, Nick Young, Pistons, Ramon Sessions, Raptors, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Rudy Fernandez, Spencer Hawes, Spurs, Suns, Thaddeus Young, Tiago Splitter, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wilson Chandler, Wizards, Yi Jianlian
Posted on: June 1, 2009 1:13 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2010 2:43 am
After correctly predicting the NBA finals in my review of the conference finals, I find it important that I hurry aboard to try and keep up my good name by predicting the NBA Finals. In all honesty, I couldn't be happier with this matchup. Not only did I pick it, these, in my opinion, are the two best teams that the NBA could offer at this point. Both of these teams have faced adversity. Both have taken shots in the media and Stan Van Gundy and Pau Gasol have been the most critiqued figures in the media since the postseason started. But how did they get here?
Key Player for the Magic: Rafer Alston has been really hit or miss this entire postseason, as well, but when he's been on, the Magic have won. Point guards have given the Lakers trouble all postseason and Alston isn't the most talented player at his position, but is a quick and smart player at the point guard position. His shot has been really streaky and sometimes he takes ill advised chances on the offensive side of the basketball, but if can keep his head in the game and knock down open jump shots then he can be a huge difference maker for the Magic. Derek Fisher has had a hard time on defense this postseason and has struggled with his jump shot, so this is a prime opportunity for Alston to take advantage of that and thoroughly outplay Fisher. If he does that, then the Magic will have the advantage to the championship.
Tags: Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bynum, Cavaliers, Celtics, Courtney Lee, Derek Fisher, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Jazz, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Luke Walton, Magic, Mickael Pietrus, Nuggets, Pau Gasol, Rafer Alston, Rashard Lewis, Rockets, Sasha Vujacic, Shannon Brown, Shaquille O'Neal, Thaddeus Young, Trevor Ariza, Yao Ming
Posted on: April 5, 2009 11:13 am
Well now that teams are clinching divisions and spots in the postseason I thought it would be cool to go ahead and preview each team that is going to be a part of the 2009 NBA Postseason. I will do one for each team as they clinch a playoff spot and since we already have teams that have clinched, we will start with them. Now we will continue with the team all of the top teams in the Eastern Conference are looking to avoid: the Philadelphia 76ers.
On defense, the 76ers have a lineup that's entirely capable of playing solid man on man basketball. Iguodala is big and athletic enough to stay in front of whoever the oppostion's best wing man is. Young is long enough to be versatile on defense and Dalembert is an absolute force around the basket blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. Also, because of the 76ers athleticism they can play a very effective rotating zone and can keep teams from getting to Dalembert and the basket. And because of Dalembert acting as the safety net, players like Iguodala, Young and Miller (who always seems to make the right decision with the basketball) can take chances and go for loose balls which then starts the fast break that the 76ers are at their best with.
Because of that, the 76ers will be hard pressed to succeed if teams slow the game down too much. Last year against Detroit, the 76ers struggled when the opposition kept the point total really low and frustrated Philadelphia when they came up with big shots. Because when the game slows down, they have nobody who can hit a jump shot or a big man who thrives around the basket. Elton Brand was heavily criticized when he was healthy this season, but he'd be huge in the postseason for Philadelphia because Dalembert, Evans, Theo Ratliff and Marreese Speights aren't going to wow anyone with their post moves around the basket. The 76ers will run into trouble when games are slowed down considerably and are going to be hard pressed to score points.
Why They Will Win It
Why They Won't Win It
The next team to clinch will be covered in the next preview.
Posted on: November 17, 2008 12:56 am
Edited on: March 21, 2009 1:22 am
1) Los Angeles Lakers (1) - Even though the Lakers lost their first game this season Friday night at home to Detroit, they looked impressive in a back to back at Dallas and New Orleans and still field the team's best record at 7-1 and it's best player in Kobe Bryant. It's tempting to drop them with that loss to Detroit fresh in our memories but honestly, who deserves to be above them?
21) Sacramento Kings (17) - This team has played admirable without Kevin Martin and even though Beno Udrih and John Salmons have kept the team in games with out Martin, they've lost almost all of the games without him in the lineup. His contributions go beyond the boxscore for this young team but you have to be impressed by the effort they show even when undermanned.
Tags: 76ers, Adam Morrison, Al Harrington, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Anderson Varejao, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Andrei Kirilenko, Andrew Bogut, Andris Biedrins, Baron Davis, Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace, Beno Udrih, Bobcats, Brandon Bass, Brandon Roy, Brandon Rush, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Chris Quinn, Clippers, Daequan Cook, Daniel Gibson, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Gerald Wallace, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jason Kidd, JaVale McGee, Jazz, Jeff Green, Joe Johnson, John Salmons, Jose Calderon, Josh Howard, Josh Smith, Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kosta Koufos, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Lindsey Hunter, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Mavericks, Mehmet Okur, Michael Beasley, Michael Finley, Michael Redd, Mike Dunleavy, Mike Miller, Mo Williams, Nets, Nick Young, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Ramon Sessions, Randy Foye, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Ryan Anderson, Shane Battier, Shawn Marion, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Steve Nash, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thaddeus Young, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Udonis Haslem, Wally Szczerbiak, Warriors, Willie Green, Wilson Chandler, Wizards, Zach Randolph
Posted on: November 10, 2008 2:34 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2009 1:23 am
1) Los Angeles Lakers - The preseason favorites to win the championship look unstoppable through their first five games. That bench is about as deep as I've ever seen and Jordan Farmar has been hugh off of the bench for them. The only thing that could possibly stop this team is injury because as of right now they look great.
4) New Orleans Hornets - The Hornets have had a good start to their season with impressive victories over Phoenix and Cleveland but need to get up for games against the likes of Atlanta and Charlotte. Bringing it every night is a priority for this team since they have the bullseye on their backs this season.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Anderson Varejao, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Andrei Kirilenko, Andrew Bogut, Andris Biedrins, Antawn Jamison, Bobcats, Brad Miller, Brandon Roy, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh, Clippers, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Gerald Green, Gerald Wallace, Gilbert Arenas, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, Jason Richardson, Jazz, Joe Johnson, Joe Smith, Jordan Farmar, Jose Calderon, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, Knicks, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, Larry Hughes, LeBron James, Linas Kleiza, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Marquis Daniels, Matt Harpring, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Dunleavy, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Pistons, Ramon Sessions, Raptors, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Ron Artest, Rudy Fernandez, Rudy Gay, Sean May, Shane Battier, Shawn Marion, Spencer Hawes, Spurs, Steve Nash, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thaddeus Young, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tony Allen, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: October 10, 2008 7:05 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2008 1:33 pm
"Man I'm so hyped right now! Anything's possible!" Amidst the crying, yelling, and screaming that followed, we were able to distinguish Kevin Garnett above it all. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were not as overly jubulant and we may have been able to make out what they were saying, but let's not fool ourselves: after years of those three superstars wasting away in mediocrity they were able to come together and give one of the greatest single season performances in NBA history. The Boston Celtics were an extremely proud franchise but had not been able to recover from the retiring of Larry Bird. Many experiments followed. The Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker tandem created the most excitment, but who expected Kenny Anderson and Tony Delk to lead this team to the promised land? Soon Walker left and the Celtics relied on Ryan Gomes and Sebastian Telfair (amongst a strange assortment of other players) to be missing pieces alongside Paul Pierce. Needless to say, the losses piled and the Celtics continued to look at mediocrity as a haven for the current state of their franchise. But then the Celtics found a rebuilding Supersonics team and it all changed. What followed was something right out of a fantasy league. Nobody could have imagined a team pitting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen on the same NBA squad and hardly anyone could have imagined the three being able to mesh so seamlessly and also be able to generate the most out of a questionable supporting cast. But the "Boston Three Party" quickly came together and created a euphoria in Boston that was unimaginable just one year prior.
It's amazing what a couple of deals can do to the face of a franchise: and all of the teams in the Atlantic division can attest to it. They all seemed to mirror the Celtics vision of changing your franchise's outlook and direction with a couple of transactions and an influx of new players. For better or for worse: the Atlantic division teams are all brand new: except for the Celtics. Nobody can blame the Celtics for staying put, especially since the assortment of players performed so well last season and with Kevin Garnett still serving as the anchor for this squad we have no reason to believe that motivation and hunger should be an issue. But all of the other teams made moves, maybe in a panic, to grab that trophy that's currently in the Celtics possession. From the 76ers acquisition of Elton Brand, to the Raptors rolling the dice on Jermaine O'Neal, followed by the "Firesale For LeBron" sweepstakes in New Jersey and the arrival of a new regime in New York.
Yes, change is abundant in the Atlantic but as the old saying goes, "the more things change the more they stay the same." Plenty of big name players and contracts have been added to the other four competitors, but none of the aforementioned squads will be able to test the Celtics on their quest for back to back championships. All of the other teams will prove to be more competition to the Celtics than they were last year, but at the end of the day the team with the experience, talent, coaching and love for defensive play will stand tall above the rest of the teams in the division. Here's the outlook on the Atlantic division.
1) Boston Celtics - After last offseason's wheeling and dealing, the Celtics won a championship and had the luxury of keeping the team intact for this season. Hunger will be the only obstacle facing this team in its quest to capture a second championship trophy. Kevin Garnett is still the MVP of this team and will handle the onseason leadership role while Paul Pierce continues to show that his spot on the Finals MVP trophy is completely deserved. Ray Allen's production will continue to decrease as he settles into the role of a spectacular spot up shooter (but not much else). Rajon Rondo is already the best defensive point guard in the league and the sky is still the limit for this young guard as he figures to be penciled in as a top ten point guard for the next few years. Kendrick Perkins isn't much more than a big body and bruiser but he isn't needed for much more than his presence. Obviously the departure of James Posey hurts this team (and definitely cripples the bench) and will lessen the Celtics chances at a repeat. His production just simply cannot be replaced by Tony Allen, Eddie House, or Darius Miles. Doc Rivers emerged as someone who looks like he can coach after his taking Phil Jackson to school in the NBA finals. Time will tell if this team is as motivated as it was last season. All signs point to yes.
2) Philadelphia 76ers - Trying to capture the Magic that the Celtics obtained last season, the Sixers set out to pick up an inside presence that would allow Reggie Evans to slide back into a better suited bench role. Elton Brand is just what the doctor ordered; or at least it looks like it on paper. Elton Brand is one of five current players to have career averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. He's had a stellar career but has lacked success regardless of his location. Of course, playing with the Bulls post-Jordan and then suiting up for the Clippers for seven years doesn't give you many opportunities to be successful but now is his best opportunity to show that he's not just a player who puts up good numbers on bad teams. If he can't get it done this season, he's nothing more than Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Andre Iguodala had a solid season last year in response to the critics who bashed Iggy for turning down the contract extension he was offered the previous summer. Iguodala still got his big contract but his performance against the Pistons last postseason is enough to make people second guess his ability to lead and deliver in clutch, crucial situations. As far as point guards go in this league, there aren't many as effecient and effective as Andre Miller is. He never misses games, plays good defense and owns one of the best lob passes in the league. Samuel Dalembert continues to improve at the center position and players like Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young and Willie Green help form the identity of what looks like a promising team. As has been pointed out, their lack of three point shooting could hurt them when the playoffs come around but it won't prevent them from reaching the postseason.
3) Toronto Raptors - Last year was a setback in many ways for the Toronto Raptors players, franchise and fans. The arrival of Bryan Colangelo seemed like a match made in heaven and the 2006-2007 Raptors brought Chris Bosh to the spotlight, got Sam Mitchell a coach of the year award and gave big expectations to Andrea Bargnani entering his second year in the league. Sam Mitchell proceeded to mishandle (badly) the point guard situation with T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon. An injury to Chris Bosh midseason derailed the Raptors and they never recovered. And Andrea Bargnani? When he wasn't pulling down 3 rebounds a game he was shooting near 30 percent from the three point line. Because of his horrible sophomore slump last season, the Raptors looked for an inside presence that could put this team into contention for an Eastern Confrence crown. As far as big names are concerned, acquiring Jermaine O'Neal is a big deal (even if it would have looked much better a few years ago). The team had to part ways with T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic but with Jose Calderon poised and ready to step into the starting point guard role and with Jermaine O'Neal replacing Rasho Nesterovic, this team should be better than what they were last season. Still, let's not fool ourselves. This is a team that was outsted from the playoffs in five games. Unless Jermaine O'Neal turns the clock back three years they will suffer, roughly, the same fate this season. O'Neal never lived up to that humongous contract that the Pacers gave him and it's hard to imagine that playing out of position alongside a player who is a better version of what O'Neal used to be is going to revive O'Neal's game and career. Jason Kapono is deadly from three point range but aside from that, the Raptors don't posses that type of wing player who's capable of taking over a game with his playmaking abilities. Anthony Parker is equally effecient from behind the arc but isn't as lethal a shooter or as much of a threat as Kapono is. Their lack of a true center and their lack of effective, effecient wing players will prevent the Raptors from making a huge splash in the postseason.
4) New Jersey Nets - If you entered last year expecting the Nets to make one last run at an Eastern Confrence crown with Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter then don't feel foolish. It seemed like a match made in heaven - Jason Kidd running the court with outstanding leapers Jefferson and Carter by his side. For whatever reason, that "big three" was never able to get past the semifinals and after watching last season's mediocre season unfold, the Nets went into firesale mode. But don't confuse this as rebuilding. This team has nothing to build around; except for the prospect of landing LeBron James in 2010. Gone are Kidd and Jefferson, in come the promising Yi Jianlian and the ever talented but annoyingly inconsistent Devin Harris to help reshape this Nets team. Jianlian faltered greatly down the stretch last year as he did not handle the 82 game season very well. It's hard to imagine playing for China in the Beijing Olympics helped matters but we'll see what steps he took to improve this season. Devin Harris has been on the cusp the past few years, people eager to see him take over and lead a team. He's yet to do so but posted solid numbers after leaving the Mavericks for Jersey last February. Vince Carter is there in contract and in scoring but not much else. He just seems to glide nowadays and is a shadow of the player that he was back in Toronto. Add that to the frontcourt by committee and it's hard to imagine this team being anything more than competitive this season. But look for them to make some progress this season, especially if Carter is traded by midseason.
5) New York Knicks - Oh, the New York Knicks. What's left to be said of this team that hasn't already been said? After five plus years of torture inflicted onto the fickle New York fanbase courtesy of Isiah Thomas, in comes Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni to save the day. Players love playing for D'Antoni's free spirit and light it up type of offense. Add that to the attractive market that is New York and the Knicks could be perceived as a team ready to turn the corner. Unfortunately, Isiah Thomas left this team stuck in the mud. With atrocious contracts being given to Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries and Jerome James coupled with taking on ridiculous contracts of Stephon Marbury, Zach Randolph, Quentin Richardson, and Malik Rose, this team is in financial hell and God himself couldn't save them for this season or next. D'Antoni has his work cut out for him asking Curry and Randolph to leave the buffet table to run the floor and fit into his offense. If it looked awkward trying to incorporate Shaq into the Suns offense last season, one can imagine the fun of watching Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph running up and down the court and hustling. Good luck with that. Stephon Marbury seems like he would be a good fit for this offense, but didn't he look like a good fit alongside Kevin Garnett in Minnesota? Didn't he look like a good fit as the cornerstone in New Jersey? Didn't he look like a player who could bring the Suns what Jason Kidd couldn't? Looks can be deceiving. Stephon Marbury has underachieved on every team he's played for and aggrevated plenty of teammates and personnel over that period. The Knicks have players that fit the system in Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and David Lee but the reigns of the D'Antoni offense will no longer be handled by Steve Nash, but instead should be headed by Chris Duhon. The only big time free agent acquisition for the Knicks is a low key guy who would be a solid backup on a really good team but hardly is a man to run a complex offense of overpaid crybabies nor is he a candidate to lead them anywhere. His "party boy" tendencies also could be further exposed with the New York media paying close attention to him. Look for New York fans to be extremely patient this year and with this roster as currently constructed, they'll need all that patience and then some.
Tags: 76ers, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Andrea Bargnani, Anthony Parker, Antoine Walker, Bulls, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Duhon, Clippers, Darius Miles, David Lee, Devin Harris, Eddie House, Eddy Curry, Elton Brand, Jamal Crawford, James Posey, Jarred Jeffries, Jason Kapono, Jason Kidd, Jerome James, Jose Calderon, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Knicks, LeBron James, Magic, Malik Rose, Mavericks, Nate Robinson, Nets, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Quentin Richardson, Rajon Rondo, Raptors, Rasho Nesterovic, Ray Allen, Reggie Evans, Richard Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Samuel Dalembert, Sebastian Telfair, Stephon Marbury, Steve Nash, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thaddeus Young, Tony Allen, Tony Delk, Vince Carter, Willie Green, Yi Jianlian, Zach Randolph